Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- An injury-time penalty from Mario Balotelli gave Manchester City a 3-2 win against Tottenham in English soccer’s Premier League. Second-place Manchester United remains three points back following a 2-1 victory at Arsenal.
Four goals were scored in a 10-minute period of the second half at City’s Etihad Stadium yesterday. Samir Nasri opened the scoring for the hosts after 56 minutes, then Joleon Lescott doubled the lead before strikes from Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale for Spurs. Balotelli’s late spotkick maintained City’s perfect home record in the league this season.
“It was an amazing game, particularly the second half, and a wonderful win for us,” City’s first-team coach David Platt said in comments on the club’s website. “One minute we looked like losing and then next we have a penalty and win.”
City has 54 points from 22 matches, United has 51, with Spurs on 46 after its first defeat in eight league matches. Fourth-place Chelsea has 41 points -- five ahead of Arsenal and Newcastle.
After a scoreless first half with few clear chances, City got the first goal when Nasri and David Silva combined 11 minutes after halftime, with Silva sliding a pass forward for his French teammate, who fired a first-time shot past goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
Center-back Lescott doubled the host’s advantage three minutes later, bundling the ball into the net from close range.
Less than a minute later Spurs scored. Stefan Savic failed to find Joe Hart with an attempted header back toward his goalkeeper and Defoe intercepted the ball before rounding Hart.
After 65 minutes the teams were level when Bale hit a curling shot into the top of the net from 20 yards (18 meters).
Spurs almost snatched a victory as Bale broke forward in injury time, but Defoe stabbed the ball just wide of the goal as he stretched to try to get on the end of the cross.
City then pushed for a winning goal and was presented with the opportunity when Ledley King fouled Balotelli in the penalty area. Balotelli scored the spotkick himself.
The Italian striker had appeared to aim a stamp at Scott Parker late in the second half and Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said Balotelli should not have been on the field to score.
“What reason did he have to backheel Scott in the head with his studs when he is laying on the floor?” Redknapp told Sky Sports. “I couldn’t see a reason for it.”
Pressure on United
With City temporarily doubling its advantage at the top of the standings, United needed a win to avoid losing ground to its archrival.
In injury time at the end of the first half, Antonio Valencia headed United into a lead with a header at the back post.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reacted at the start of the second half by introducing Nico Yennaris at fullback instead of Johan Djourou, who had failed to close down Ryan Giggs when he crossed for the goal.
Robin van Persie, the Gunners’ leading scorer this season, should have got his 23rd of the campaign when set up by Tomas Rosicky for a chance six minutes after the interval. Instead, the Dutchman fired wide from 10 yards out.
He atoned for his miss with the leveling goal on 71 minutes, slipping the ball through the legs of United’s Jonny Evans.
Arsenal’s fans reacted angrily to Wenger’s decision to introduce Andrey Arshavin for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain soon after. Arshavin failed to track a run from Valencia in the 81st minute which led to Danny Welbeck scoring the winning goal.
The Gunners were unable to rally again and fell to a third straight league defeat for a first time in almost five years.
“Winning after City had won was the important thing and we’ve done it in the right way,” United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.
Chelsea was held to a 0-0 draw two days ago at Norwich, Bolton defeated Liverpool 3-1, Fulham beat Newcastle 5-2, while West Bromwich Albion won 2-1 at Stoke.
Everton and Blackburn tied 1-1, Sunderland beat Swansea 2-0, Aston Villa won 3-2 at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers defeated Wigan 3-1.
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